By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Since their arrival on campus three years ago, junior basketball players Tucker Pierson and Ryan Coleman have lost three times as many games as they have won.
The quest to revive the men’s basketball program is ignited Friday night, as the Wildcats open the season with a non-conference game against Howard Payne at 8 pm. in Moody Coliseum.
The Wildcats, who have lost 53 games the last three years under the departed Mike Martin, are now led by Klint Pleasant, a young, eager head coach with a passion for winning, working hard and motivating his players.
“I’m excited about the product we can put out on the floor,” said Pleasant, whose Golden Flashes ad-vanced to the Elite Eight in last season’s NCAA Division I Tournament. “I’m very optimistic.”
The team looked comfortable with Pleasant’s high-octane ap-proach on both ends of the court in last week’s 92-64 exhibition win over International Sports Federa-tion. Against ISF, ACU pushed the ball early and often, but Pleasant is quick to point out that his team plays under control.
Coleman said Pleasant is a excellent change of pace for the men’s program.
“Coach Plea-sant is a fresh coach for a fresh start,” said Coleman, who will see plenty of time at both guard spots this season.
Add two new athletes who just wrapped up a season with the football team (senior forward Steven Riddley and freshman guard Don Hooks), and the Wildcats have the deepest rotation in recent memory.
Howard Payne, which finished last season at 13-12, is picked to win the West Division of the American Southwest Conference and return an electric player in senior guard and all-ASC West pick Benny West. West averaged almost 19 points a game and was the West Division Defensive Player of the Year as a junior.
Pleasant knows what his team needs to do to win Friday’s game against the Yellow Jackets.
“They’re very athletic and most comfortable playing 94 feet,” Pleasant said. “We have to be sure to get back defensively and have to take high percentage shots.”
ACU has Saturday through Monday off to prepare for Tuesday’s 8 p.m. game against St. Edward’s in Austin. The Cats will then travel to Goodwell, Okla., to play Panhandle State on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 7:30 p.m.